How The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Made Me Feel Insecure

The new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition came out recently. I’m sure it has sold well as many men like to read the articles (sure), and admire the perfect butts on the front cover. Heck. Even I looked! However, I imagine that my reaction was much different from your average guy’s reaction.

Almost instantaneously after I saw the cover, I was picturing what my backside looks like and comparing myself to this cover. Granted I’m a “bit” older than the women.  Okay. Perhaps 15 years older. However, I’m tall and on the skinny side, but I still have fat. And it’s not tan fat either. It’s white. Very white. And it’s not flawless nor firm.

There is also the fact that after having three babies and getting older, my rear end kinda slid down the back of my legs, with no definite “buttline” or “crease” to distinguish my butt from my legs.  My backside is also quite, shall we say, dimply (it sounds cute that way). In the real world it’s called cellulite. Suffice it to say my backside wouldn’t make the cover of a magazine unless it were “What Not to Wear”, since I still refuse to wear a one piece suit.

My stomach kind off pooches down a bit to form what could be a pouch if I had it surgically altered. I wouldn’t have to wear a fanny pack anymore! (Kidding. I would never wear a fanny pack). I do have nice ribs though. And muffin top? Why is there not a brand of jeans that fits me that doesn’t create that overflow of fluff? (By the way, I refuse to wear elastic waist jeans or pants, unless they’re leggings.)

But then I remember Photoshop. I know a thing or two about Photoshop having briefly worked in a photography studio. I remember we had one client whose pictures turned out amazing! She looked absolutely stunning. Interestingly enough, when she came to pick them up, I didn’t recognize her from her photos at all. She’d been Photoshopped so much that she wasn’t even herself in the pictures. In person, she was still very beautiful. But not perfect. And that’s where I think magazines cross a line.

It’s hard being a woman. Not just because the shoes hurt, but because I believe guys expect women to really look like the touched-up or altered magazine photos. I get the feeling men think women really do have long, slender, flawless legs. That women have babies and don’t get stretch marks and their stomach snaps right back into the same place it was before pregnancy. And if they nurse? Their breasts don’t sag later. (I do understand there are women who don’t get stretch marks, cellulite or saggy boobs but I wouldn’t be caught near them on a beach)

In fact I recently watched a YouTube video with my husband regarding Photoshopped pictures. He was in disbelief that these people didn’t really look like the photos represented. I think he even cried a little.

I can often tell if  a photo has been altered. You probably can too.  Either because in comparing the photo to another of the same person, it’s very different, or because the women my age have flawless. smooth skin. Another giveaway is sometimes the proportions are off.

My daughters struggle with accepting their bodies as they are. Each one of my girls is beautifully created by God. Yet they too see these photos and judge themselves harshly.  I believe this kind of photoshopping contributes to eating disorders. One of my daughters struggles with Anorexia because she fears she’s too fat. She couldn’t be further from that. I wonder how much of her struggle is her perception of how she thinks she could look?

I’d like to see advertisers and magazines use photoshop less often and less excessively. Two companies that I know are already doing this are Aerie and Dove. I’d also like to be less hard on my own image. More accepting of it. Perhaps that starts by cancelling my magazine subscriptions so I’m less influenced. Working out would be helpful for me too, as I’d feel stronger and more in shape. Either way, fear not. I’ll continue to unashamedly wear my two piece suits on the beaches, cellulite, stretch marks and all. Because this is what God gave me to work with.

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